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The 2015 Emirates Cup: History comes alive again

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The most legendary tournament in Islington is back for another season of creating memories and magic.

Stanley Chou/Getty Images

In every calendar, there are things to look forward to. For Americans, the Memorial and Labor day holidays bookmark summer, like nice warm parentheses flooded with beer and barbecue. For Canadians, Christmas seems to be the most popular holiday; for Indians, the five day Diwali, or "festival of lights", is one of the high points.

And soccer is no different. Every four years, of course, there's a World Cup; staggered two years apart from the World Cup are the European Championships, and as you go through the soccer-playing nations of the world there's always a prestigious national tournament or a heated local rivalry to orient your month/season around, to keep interest up and keep recording pages in the history books.

And on that note, there is no more prestigious, historically significant, or important soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere than the eighth edition of the Emirates Cup. When you think about the things that make a soccer tournament prestigious, you generally look at the following:

1. Depth of field of participants - are they strong teams?
2. Breadth of field, in an international tournament - are they from as wide an area as possible?
3. Profile of tournament - do people with sponsorship money know about it? Do they care about it?
4. Fan interest in tournament - do fans turn up? Do parents tell their children about the memorable games and events the tournament when the parents were small children themselves?

I think you'll all agree that the Emirates Cup ticks all those boxes, and probably also some boxes I haven't thought of.

It's with that as background that all of London - and I dare say all of England - breathlessly awaits the commencement of this year's Emirates Cup, taking place over one glorious weekend in London. Kicking off this Saturday, this will be the most glorious weekend on the soccer calendar anywhere in the world between now and the kickoff of Qatar 2022.

This tournament will, as it always does, see the capital come to a standstill, as pubs fill to capacity, neighbors have their neighbors over to watch on TV, and every media outlet on the island devotes countless numbers of hours to covering the tournament, its teams, and the ups and downs, heroes and villains, and the storylines yet to be thought of that will surely make this the most amazing Emirates Cup yet.

This year's field is a pan-European festival of Western Europeanness, featuring Lyon from France, Villareal from Spain, and Wolfsburg from Germany. As you can see, there are no lightweights here - all four teams will want to give everything they have in order to bring home the beautiful trophy about which there are no words to adequately describe its beauty and prestige.

The format is simple. Each team plays each other team once, except that they each don't play one of the teams in the tournament; there's no final; there are points for both wins and goals scored, and shots on goal are used as a tiebreaker if needed. See? Simple!

So, my advice to you: get some sleep today, because Emirates Cup Fever takes no prisoners and you'll be spending most of Saturday night endlessly reliving the glorious moments of Saturday before starting the countdown to Sunday's final day of white-hot action!

The fixture list is as follows:

25 July 2015
6AM PT/9AM ET/2PM BT
Wolfsburg v. Villarreal

25 July 2015
8:20AM PT/11.20AM ET/4.20PM BT
Arsenal v. Olympique Lyonnais

26 July 2015
6AM PT/9AM ET/2PM BT
Olympique Lyonnais v. Villarreal

26 July 2015
8:20AM PT/11.20AM ET/4.20PM BT
Arsenal v. Wolfsburg

In the US, the games will be streamed on ESPN3Worldwide streaming info here.